Some thoughts on fear

We’ve had a lot of scary things happen here in Israel lately, and it seems to just keep getting worse.

As I’m sitting here writing this blog post, Israeli Air Force jets and helicopters are launching strikes on Syrian military positions following the firing of two rockets at Israeli territory on the Golan Heights from areas controlled by the Assad regime. A full scale war, quite possibly involving rockets fired at me and my family here in Jerusalem, might be just around the corner.

This follows a weekend in which a Palestinian man randomly selected a couple of Jewish people to stab as they walked through the Old City of Jerusalem minding their own business. This reminds me that I live in a city where I have to be watchful as I’m simply walking around minding my own business, lest someone randomly select me as someone they’d like to stab.

As most readers of this blog will know, there was also an incident at the Pavilion in Jerusalem in which a bunch of young men and teenagers from the “Lehava” organization, which is an anti-Christian group within Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, attempted to disrupt a concert put on by a group of local Israeli Believers. This group, which all of my Ultra-Orthodox friends assure me represents a tiny fraction of the community and acts in ways that nearly everyone finds appalling and unacceptable, nonetheless continues to exist despite nearly everything they do being technically illegal. Similar groups exist in other Israeli cities and harass Believers, both Jewish and Gentiles, in various ways.

However, as bad as this harassment is, it’s light in comparison to what our Arab Christian brothers and sisters living in the Palestinian Authority administered cities in the West Bank and Gaza are subjected to from their Moslem neighbours and sometimes even from within the PA itself.

So, yeah, there’s a lot of scary stuff happening here in Israel. But wherever you live as you read this blog, you could no doubt make your own list of scary stuff. From increasingly common mass shootings in the US to increasingly common terrorist attacks in Europe, to environmental deterioration, economic uncertainty and political turmoil pretty much everywhere the list of things that can have a negative effect on our lives but over which we have little or no control is long and seems to keep getting longer.

However…

I have never made a study of this subject myself so I beg your pardon if this is incorrect, but I have heard that the Bible contains 365 passages, one for each day of the year, saying that Believers are not to live lives of fear.

Some of the most often quoted of these passages are;

Isaiah 41:10; “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”

and

2 Timothy 1:7; “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline”

To this can be added Romans 8:28 which says “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”

This passage doesn’t deal specifically with fear, but it has an obvious application which can help us cope with our fears.

However, there’s one other passage which gives us an even more precise instruction which can help us in our day-to-day struggles with fear and anxiety, and that is 1 Thessalonians 5:8; “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”

This passage is often taught as an example of metaphor and/or allegory but the late Derek Prince (whose teachings have played a large role in my own spiritual journey and which I recommend to everyone) pointed out that a “helmet” protects the head, which of course contains the brain. It is in our brains that we feel fear and anxiety, and so the “hope of salvation” is the remedy for that.

Prince went on to explain that, bearing this in mind, Believers are obligated to have an attitude of optimism, because this will make us stand out in a world increasingly consumed by fear and anxiety and it will also protect us from being overwhelmed by our own fears. I will be the first to admit that this is much easier said than done, but I am also forced to admit that there is simply no alternative.

May God give us all the faith, strength and courage to face our fears and anxieties with an attitude of optimism and hope because we KNOW where all these scary things we’re going through are taking us and we KNOW that our Heavenly Father is working all things together or our good.